180 professionals from across the UK & Ireland meat industry came together for the sold-out Meat Business Women Conference NatWest HQ in London yesterday (Wednesday, May 18) to hear from industry leading keynote speakers, network and collaborate on the most pressing issues facing the meat industry.
The key theme of the day was the ‘Challenge of Change.’ Delegates heard from Minette Batters, NFU President, who spoke about the UK’s future relationship with Europe and the rest of the world including learnings from Australia and New Zealand in new markets. Minette also spoke about the launch of the export strategy and alongside it, the importance of collaboration and the future ambitions of the food industry.
Minette was followed by Beth Hart, Vice President Supply Chain and Brand Trust at McDonald’s who gave her perspective on the importance of supply chain within the three ‘legged stool’ or three pillars of McDonald’s, the franchisees, suppliers and the company. Karen O’Connor, Category Director of Meat Fish and Poultry at Sainsbury’s covered her journey from heading up the commercial performance of Sainsbury’s fuel, forecourts and tobacco business before joining Fresh Food and on to Category Director.
Another event highlight was the panel session, which was chaired by Harriet Wilson, McDonald’s. It welcomed five women from the industry Jodie Bolland, Morrisons, Hannah Surtees, Hilton Food Group PLC, Julie Baker, NatWest, Elizabeth Buchanan, CVO; LLD; FRAgs and Elaine Willis, Linden Foods.
All panellists talked about the challenges they faced at different stages of their career and gave delegates an honest and insightful session. Topics included the importance of resilience, having a strong team and stepping out of our comfort zone. Panellists also defined what success meant to them, and the impact that having a good mentor and support network has had on their career. The panel was rounded off with our speakers giving their key piece of advice to add to a ‘resilience treasure chest.’
The afternoon session saw a lively workshop session with delegates discussing and sharing thoughts on issues such as how to continue career development whilst juggling home and family life, key barriers preventing new talent joining the meat industry and how best to drive inclusive cultural change within the meat industry.
The morning session of the conference was livestreamed so that for delegates who were not able to have a day away from the office to benefit from the keynote and panel sessions. Virtual delegates were able to submit their questions online to be answered live on stage.
One attendee said: “I had never been to a Meat Business Women conference before but I was completely blown away. The attendance here is absolutely fantastic, lots of different people from different sectors who support the meat industry but aren’t always specifically in meat production plants too. It’s great to meet them all.”
Jackie Carter, MBW committee member and Group Technical Director at Cranswick plc said “The purpose of these events is to help skilfully improve networking across the industry, and today brought together women from all parts of the meat industry to share the business knowledge and soft skills they need to build successful careers.
“We have women and men from all aspects of the meat industry, from suppliers, agriculture, retailers, food service, manufacturers. Anyone who is affiliated with the meat industry is welcome. Hopefully today our delegates will take away hints and tips that they can use in their personal and professional life to cope with the challenges that are thrown at them and accelerate their career path within their chosen industry. We’re also very proud and grateful to have the support of high-profile leaders who have agreed to share their own lessons on business and personal change with our community.”
One to Watch Prize
The conference also saw the launch of the Meat Business Women One to Watch Prize for 2022. Now in its fourth year, One to Watch is an annual prize awarded to women aged 35 or under working within the meat industry in UK & Ireland. It was established by Meat Business Women to help celebrate, nurture and support female talent in the meat industry.
The prize recognises an aspirational woman in the meat industry who is making an incredible impact in her place of work. The winner will receive a place on ‘Women Leaders’ course at Cranfield University, or an equivalent prize to a value of £4,000 kindly supported by Interfood. Entries are now open to all females who work across the entire meat sector and are aged 35 or under.